Nathan Bui, Eagle Scout Troop 997

Nathan Bui, Troop 997, Huntington Beach

Nathan attended Los Amigos High School in Fountain Valley and graduated from Cal State, Fullerton in May 2019, with a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences. Currently, Nathan is working as an Academic Manager with an educational services company in Newport Beach and is in the process of applying to medical school.

Why was achieving the rank of Eagle Scout meaningful to you?

“For me, the beautiful medal is a symbol of my achievement, but I prefer to look at it as representing years-long adventure traveling to new places, meeting new people, and having great fun that is often times so easily lost as you progress through adulthood.  My Eagle Scout award is hanging in a frame in my room, and it is one of the first things I open my eyes to every morning, reminding me of what I have achieved and all of what the future has in store.”

What key skills did you learn in Scouting that has supported your success thus far?

“I think one of the key aspects of my success that I learned through Scouting is how to form a good work ethic and stay motivated during times of adversity.  Scouting has always taught me that anything worth achieving is always associated with a corresponding amount of work.  If you want to earn that Personal Fitness merit badge, you are going to have to practice workouts every day, gradually shaping yourself into a desired version of yourself.  Late nights studying, less than optimal exam scores, and difficult days at work were sometimes disheartening, but Scouting reminded me to keep my eyes on the prize and work, work, work until I myself was proud of the results.”

What did you learn from Scouting that impacts your everyday life, personally or professionally?

“Funny enough, Scouting guided me toward getting regular exercise and taking care of my body.  In college, I took a step back from Scouting and also noticed my personal health begin to decline—exercise was more difficult to fit in with such a busy daily regimen.  Toward the end of my undergraduate career, I took some time to begin getting back into shape, and using some core values you can still find in the Boy Scout Manual, I continue to exercise every day now.  Feeling physically good makes life so much more pleasant, and I owe it to values I learned from a young age in Scouting. Remember to take care of your body, and it will help you take care of everything else you want to do!”

Looking back, how did Scouting help you to get to where you are today?

“My senior year of high school, I applied to the President’s Scholar program at CSUF and encouraged to come in for an interview.  Entering into the room, I was surprised to find that I was going to be interviewed by a board of 15 individuals along one of those long conference room tables.  However, one of the first interview questions was from a current President’s Scholar who was an Eagle Scout alumnus, and he asked how my Eagle Scout Project went with a smile that broke the ice and enabled me to relax.  The President’s Scholar program has helped me immensely by easing financial burdens so that I could focus on coursework and improve myself to the extent of graduating summa cum laude from my graduating class with University Honors and the 2019 Cal State Fullerton Alumni Association Outstanding Senior Award.  It has opened up opportunities for me during my time there, including working with faculty as a research associate. All of this originated with my beginnings in Scouting, which has helped me develop the skills and courage to pursue greater things in my life as an adult.” 

What was your one best memory of Scouting? Why?

“Every Halloween camp, we do a very unique traditional Vietnamese Scouting ceremony during the early morning hours of the last day in camp (usually around dawn) in which newer members of the troop officially swear the Vietnamese Scout Oath over the troop flag and are formally inducted into the brotherhood of Vietnamese-American Scouting.  The night before, there is a small meeting over the remains of a campfire between leaders of the troop and the small group of inductees that will be swearing the oath the following morning.  It is a very casual sit-down in which inductees are encouraged to ask questions about the Scout Oath and how it connects to a scout’s daily life. While the ceremony is very important to the inductees, it is also a time for introspection for everyone across all ages and stages of their lives—from a young Scout just entering middle school to an experienced Assistant Scoutmaster like me, surviving through my first year of college and many new transitions.  We cracked open a can of spam to grill over the fire with bamboo skewers, warmed some chicken noodle soup, and toasted some quesadillas as we each shared very personal conversations with one another that made us all closer as a group.  We talked about the future of the troop, things we were struggling with in our personal lives, and places we would like to go someday. On hindsight, Scouting brings people closer together and helped me to set big goals.”

What else would you like to add about your experience in Scouting?

“Scouting has had a significant impact on connecting me back with my ancestral culture and roots.  This district is particularly fortunate in that it has the largest population of Vietnamese-American Scouts in the country.  My troop, like several others of its kind, traces its heritage back to the Scouting movement in Vietnam and tries to remain true to its identity while also adhering to the structure of Scouts BSA.  I have learned more about Vietnamese culture outside of my community with my troop, traveling to places and engaging with others, than I ever could at home.  I have had the participated in two Thang Tiens (Vietnamese International Scouting Jamborees), and they were life-altering experiences in which I connected with other Scouts from Germany, France, Australia, and other parts of the U.S.  Experiences like these helped me meet diverse individuals whose only shared characteristic with me was that they also spoke Vietnamese.  These things shape a young person’s identity and makes them value where they come from, preserving the past and incorporating it into our future.” 

What advice do you have for a Scout who aspires to achieve the Eagle Scout rank?

“Not everyone has to make Eagle Scout for Scouting to have an impact on their lives. I have met countless of Scouts that never achieved the Eagle Scout rank, and they are some of the best Scouts I have ever had the good fortune to be associated with.  Work with kindness, diligence, and self-confidence and you will find your own path to Eagle Scout or anything else you hope to achieve through Scouting. Your Eagle Scout Court of Honor is something you may remember for a while, but your experiences building up to it are going to be moments and lessons you remember for life.  You have what it takes deep inside—just reach in and be yourself!”